Do you love the great outdoors? We sure do! Whether you like to camp, go canoeing, take a hike, or just go for a leisurely walk, there's nothing quite like enjoying nature's beauty.
Of course, it can be a little dangerous to venture out into the great outdoors. If you're hiking, you'll want to keep a close eye out for snakes, for example. Some of the most dangerous creatures, though, are also some of the tiniest. What are we talking about? Ticks!
Have you ever been playing outdoors and later found a tick attached to your skin? Ugh! No one likes it when these little parasites bite and burrow under your skin. Not only can it hurt, but it can also make you sick.
Ticks are part of the arachnid family of insects, which means they're related to spiders and scorpions. There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks and they can be found just about everywhere on Earth.
Two of the most common ticks in North America are the deer tick and the dog tick. These ticks, like all other ticks, attach themselves to the skin of humans and animals. Why? So they can suck your blood!
It's true. Ticks are like mythical vampires. Unlike vampires, though, ticks are very small. Some look like tiny specks of dirt that are no larger than the head of a pin.
As if drinking your blood wasn't bad enough, ticks can also carry diseases. For example, some ticks carry bacteria called spirochetes. Ticks can transmit the bacteria to humans, causing an infection known as Lyme disease. Another common disease many ticks carry is called Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
If you find a tick on you, tell an adult and ask for help in removing it. Over the next few days, watch for symptoms that you may be coming down with a tick-borne illness. Common symptoms include flu-like symptoms (such as feeling tired and achy), fever, headache, stomach pain,, or a red rash that looks a bit like a bullseye.
If you suspect a tick-borne illness, see a doctor right away. Most tick-borne illnesses can be treated easily with antibiotics and have no lasting effects.